Michael Pachter, Wedbush Morgan Securities:
Under-reported announcements or events:
The announcement that I thought was missed was the opening of the Xbox Live Dashboard interface to the internet. Later this year, Microsoft will allow members to access last.fm and to select music, to access Netflix and instantly watch films/TV shows, to access Facebook and interact with other friends, and to access Twitter and post/read tweets.
In order for this to happen, Microsoft has to open up the Xbox Live interface and for the first time will let Xbox Live members use the built-in browser as a browser.
Admittedly, the selection is limited to these four sites, but it's a start, and is a glimpse into the future of the Xbox 360 as a home media/internet hub. I think that this announcement was far and away the most important one of the show, and think that the media completely missed its importance.
Ultimately, Microsoft appears intent on positioning the Xbox 360 as a functioning computer that happens to be located in the living room and is connected to the television. This gives the company a huge jump start on a hopeful Apple, which has as yet to make a dent in sales of its AppleTV (intended for the same purpose).
Microsoft appears to me to understand that it can leverage its 30 million installed base advantage if it moves quickly, and Apple will have a long way to go in order to catch up. By far, this was the most important announcement of E3.
Favorite or least favorite things about the event:
My professional favorite was that E3 was back to an appropriate size, and that the show attracted media attention. This is key to generating consumer interest, and I think it will help reinvigorate sales later in the year.
My personal favorites were the multiplayer Super Mario Bros. Wii game, the return of booth babes, the parties, and the ability to see a lot of people that I haven't seen in a year or more.
Is E3 finally back in the game?
Yes, E3 is way back, and it matters a lot. This year's E3 was a pleasant experience, and it was right-sized.
There was a big enough presence to create a feeling of something huge, but few enough people that the space could be navigated easily. I think that the booth size limitation was a great idea, as the aisles between booths were wide.
The media was there in force, and the media presence will likely be much larger next year, providing ample "free" publicity. The participants, to varying degrees, attracted a lot of attention with celebrity sightings, whether at parties or press conferences. I think bigger is better, and this year's show was plenty big.